Alappuzha: Sangh Parivar affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday claimed it converted several Christian families ‘into the Hindu fold’ in the State as part of the organisation’s Ghar Vapasi (Return Home) programme.
VHP Alappuzha district president Prathap G. Padickal told DC that 30 Christians converted at a function held at Thayyannur Lakshmi Narayana Temple in Cheppad Panchayat. Temple administrator S. Sasikumar, however, said eight persons converted in the function.
Mr Padickal said VHP was planning to hold similar public conversions. “Nobody can call it conversion because the people are coming back to their home ‘dharma’. All we did was to facilitate it. We will continue to do it for those who are interested.”
VHP leadership claimed it organised conversions in Kottayam, Kollam, Ernakulam and Kasargod districts but declined provide the number of people converted.
The State government took the reports on conversion seriously, Home minister Ramesh Chennithala said. “The police will look into the event from the constitutional point of view,” he said.
The VHP is yet to reveal the identity of the converted persons in Alappuzha. Mr Sasikumar said they belonged to ST community but were denied benefits of government schemes as they were Christians.
“Their forefathers converted into Christianity but the new generation was not interested to follow the faith,” Mr Kumar, an active BJP worker, said.
“In 2012, a ritual was held at Chettikulangara temple and they had got a certificate from the Travancore Dewaswom Board. But it hardly helped them get benefits of government schemes. Hence their decision.”
Local residents told DC that there was an hour-long puja including ganpathihomam at the temple as part of the ceremony, which started at 10am.
The narrow roads that lead to the temple and surrounding areas were decorated with VHP flags. As many as 100 VHP activists attended the programme.
K Soman, a senior BJP leader in the district told DC that the entire programme was conducted by VHP. “The district BJP unit was unaware of it,” he said.
Kerala Catholic Bishop Council declined to comment on the development. KCBC secretary-general and spokesperson Fr. Varghese Vallikatu said it would not be proper to comment on such a matter without the details of the incidents.
SNDP Yogam General Secretary Vellappally Natesan said that banning religious conversion by law is the only way to protect secularism and religious harmony.
“The State and Central governments should come forward to make such a law,” he said. Veallappaly however, declined to oppose the campaign launched by the VHP and other Hindu outfits in the state to reconvert people to Hinduism.
Reconversion is possible only when people are ready to come back, he said. On the question of the caste status of the people getting reconverted into Hinduism, he said, “the matter needed a serious study.”...